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Senators seek to remove final approval for Keystone XL pipeline from the State Department

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By Reuters
Thursday, March 14, 2013, 7:12 p.m.

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate on Thursday would give Congress the power to approve TransCanada Corp's Keystone XL pipeline project to link Canada's oil sands with refineries and ports in Texas.

The measure, sponsored by John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican, and Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, would take approval of the more than 800,000-barrels-per-day pipeline out of the hands of the Obama administration.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters after the bill was introduced that the approval process for pipelines crossing international borders belongs with the State Department.

The $5.3 billion pipeline has become a symbol of oil- sands development for both its opponents and supporters. Environmentalists say it would open up access to the oil sands, which are carbon-intensive to produce.

The pipeline's proponents say the pipeline would bolster North American energy security and usher in thousands of new jobs, and pour capital into the economy.

The State Department this month issued an environmental assessment of the project that said it would not cause environmental harm. After the report is finalized, Obama is expected to make a final decision on Keystone, around August or later.

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